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UK becomes global TV hub

Date posted: 04.12.2013

The UK is wooing international broadcasters with its wealth of creative talent and production capability and the majority have now based their European headquarters in the country.  

London is at the heart of this booming television economy - employment in the industry has doubled in the last decade.  

Thanks to unprecedented growth in the UK's multichannel sector the country is now a leading exporter of television. Worth £5bn a year the sector broadcasts 127 non-UK channels to the rest of the world.

Alongside this, the influx of high-end television production - often financed through a combination of international and UK investment - is on the rise in the UK. This is thanks to new tax relief, in place since April 2013, which underpins the UK's attractiveness as a production centre and is now on a level playing field with global competitors.

The encouraging figures are published in a report commissioned by the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), supported by Film London and British Film Commission. The report was launched by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey at an event held at Viacom International's UK headquarters in London last week.

Multichannels in the UK: Key findings

The last 20 years have seen a transformation in British broadcasting and TV production. The sector has moved from a market driven by public service broadcasting to a more mixed, global ecology.

The UK is now an international centre for broadcasting and television production, with a vibrant mix of domestic and international players. The report produced by Communications Commission examines the contribution of the multichannel sector to this growth, and the opportunities ahead.

Key findings include:

  • The UK is one of the most important broadcasting hubs in Europe
    The country is building scale and competitiveness through an increasingly diverse ecology of domestic and multinational players and is a leading global centre for television.
  • The multichannel sector is growing fast
    It has increased investment in UK content by nearly 30% in the last three years, rapidly growing its commissioning from UK independent producers
  • Production investment is increasingly global
    As part of increasing their investment in UK production, multichannels have established global and European commissioning hubs in the UK, bringing increased overseas investment into domestic production.
  • Growth in 'inward investment'
    The range of investment in the UK production sector is further expanding, as it attracts large scale 'inward investment' productions, bringing long term investment in multiple series over a number of years.

Read the full Building a Global TV Hub report (PDF)

The positive impact of UK tax reliefs

The research by the Communications Commission also found early signs that new tax reliefs for high-end television and animation are having a positive effect.

The reliefs are supporting a growth in international production that is leading to sustained investment in UK studios and facilities, as well as production itself. The report found:

  • 62% of companies surveyed with projects that qualify for tax reliefs plan to increase investment in the UK.
  • Seven out of 10 international broadcasters commit to increasing investment over the next five years.
  • Close to 30% increase in investment in UK content by the multichannel sector over the last three years.

Film London's role in supporting sector growth

Introducing the report, Wootton said that the tax reliefs have solidified the UK's position as a truly globally competitive television hub.

"Like the film industry before it, the television sector is becoming more complex and more global," he said. Warning that despite the successes, the industry cannot rest on its laurels: "in many ways, the UK will have to be more adaptable and more outward looking than ever before."

"At the British Film Commission and Film London, we hope our experience at home and on an international level will continue to serve the UK TV industry well as it seizes this exceptional global opportunity."

Find out more about the UK tax reliefs for film and television

About multichannel broadcasters

The report is about the commercial multichannel industry, encompassing all digital channels outside the public service broadcasters.

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